HC Deb 02 November 1966 vol 735 cc432-3
2. Mr. Stodart

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will increase the hill sheep subsidy as a means of offsetting the low prices paid for this year's lamb crop as a result of the Government's credit restrictions.

Mr. Peart

I cannot agree that the Government's credit policy has had this effect.

Mr. Stodart

Is the right hon. Gentleman quite unaware of the various comments by authoritative sources to that effect? Is not this again a monumental example of the Minister's complete indifference to this very grave problem?

Mr. Peart

I am well aware of authoritative Conservative reports, or thoughts from the hon. Member, which mislead people because there are no credit difficulties in the sense described by the hon. Member. I hope that the hon. Member will have read very carefully the Bank of England's statement made only yesterday.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Government policy is being made the excuse for many matters?

Mr. Peart

That is true. The hon. Member who leads for the Scottish Unionist Party has, I believe, done a disservice to the farming community by talking down the market.

Mr. Monro

Does not the Minister realise that an immediate increase in the hill ewe subsidy is the only means of injecting money into the industry?

Mr. Peart

The hon. Member must be aware of the accepted practice. This is a matter which we decide at the Annual Review.

Mr. Mackintosh

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, while we attach no great significance to the reason given by the Opposition for this, it is one of many reasons? Will my right hon. Friend say a word of encouragement to hill sheep farmers and bear them in mind in the next Review?

Mr. Peart

I think I have done more in my Reviews for hill farming than did the previous Administration. At the last Review we increased the hill sheep subsidy by ls. I am aware that there are problems; and we are considering them. Certainly I will note these when we have discussions with the Union at the next Review.

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